Honolulu: Lunch Wagon Crackdown

Camille's on Wheels

By Olena Heu | KHON

Camille's on Wheels

The latest food craze sweeping the nation has also taken off here in Hawaii.

Gourmet lunch trucks can be found on streets across town but many lunch wagon owners say they could be forced out of business because of an out of date law.

Lunch wagons in Hawaii have long been known as a quick and easy way to grab something delicious to eat.

“We are really trying to be enterprising in an economy that’s down and we are trying to create work for ourselves,” said Camille Komine, Camille’s On Wheels.

Former television set decorator and food stylist Camille Komine took her culinary skills to the streets a year ago and has received national acclaim for her fusion tacos and homemade pies. But recently Camille along with several others say their future has become uncertain.

Recently Honolulu Police officers started enforcing a city ordinance, originally written in 1978, that states “It is unlawful for any itinerant vendor… to carry on or solicit business in one location on any street or on any public highway for a period of more than 15 minutes.”

“It has put at least one vendor out of business because he can’t set up in 15 minutes,” said Komine.

The citation comes with a fine of $500 per person and up to 30 days in jail and has lunch truck operators driving scared.

“It doesn’t allow a food truck to operate in any capacity,” said Joe Twarowski, Chicago Eatz.

Police officials say “The HPD has received complaints from the community regarding the lunch trucks taking up some of the limited parking spaces in the area. For the past few months our officers have been educating the vendors about the law and have been giving them warnings. After repeated warnings, some of the vendors have been ticketed.”

“We are providing a service for people, we don’t park in front of other businesses out of respect,” said Komine.

But are they breaking the law?

“The way the law is written some of them probably are but you know so were black people who sat at certain lunch counters,” said Marcus Landsberg, trial attorney.

City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced a bill Thursday seeking to increase the time limit to two hours.

“They are complying with the law in every other area, the problem that we are seeing here is an outdated law,” said Tulsi Gabbard, Honolulu City Council.

“I am a very small business and the irony of being chased out of business is pretty unbelievable.” said Komine.